Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers


by - Senior Writer -
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Football players love to talk about how playing the game is like going to war.

Daniel Rodriguez has seen the brutal and terrifying face of real war, and now just wants the chance to play the game he loves, and Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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is going to give it to him.

“I actually just got into town today,” Rodriguez told TigerNet Tuesday evening. “I am going to meet with the coaches while I am here, and then I am going to watch practice when spring practice starts Wednesday. We have put in a waiver with the NCAA – because I am transferring without finishing my Associate’s Degree – and once I get that cleared then I am ready to go.”

In case you have missed his story, it’s a good one.

Rodriguez was a three-year starter at Brooke Pointe High School in Stafford, Virginia, playing all over the field – slot receiver, safety, cornerback, special teams and even backup quarterback. He wasn’t the biggest player on the team at just over 5-foot-8, but he had a heart that was bigger than anyone else’s. He even had thoughts that he might like to play collegiately.

Then, his world fell apart.

His parents separated when he was still a high school junior, and a year later his father passed away after a heart attack, just four days after Daniel graduated from high school.

Refusing to feel sorry for himself, and unable to deal with the expectations that the college life might heap on him, he joined the military.

“At the end of the summer all of my friends went off to college and I just said to myself, ‘Okay, am I going to sit around here and be a deadbeat, or am I going to go do something with my life and, you know, build on it?’ And that’s when I joined the military,” he said.

He went through basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was deployed to Iraq less than a month after finishing basic. He served as an infantryman stationed at the Joint Security Site (JSS) in Sadr City on the outskirts of Baghdad, and spent his days making rounds of the city for up to 16 hours each day.

He made it through his initial 12-month deployment unscathed, but after just 13 months back in the states, his unit was once again deployed overseas—this time to Afghanistan. In the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, the war was much different than the one he experienced in Iraq.

“We were up in the mountains fighting daily. We lived in huts carved out of the side of the mountains,” he said. “We were eating just one meal a day – it was just mountain men fighting.”

On October 3, 2009, his life changed forever as he and his unit took part in one of the bloodiest battles of the war – The Battle of Kamdesh. The battle saw a force of around 300 Taliban militants attack American Combat Outpost Keating (COP Keating) in the early morning hours.

What unfolded was a nightmare for Rodriguez and the men of his unit. The soldiers were pushed back into a corner almost within the hour, but despite being outnumbered began to fight their way back to the outpost’s outer perimeter, and Rodriguez was in the middle of an action that saw over 150 of the Taliban killed or wounded.


He caught shrapnel in his legs and neck and took a bullet fragment through his shoulder, and received the Bronze Star for valor for his acts during that battle. Accounts said that he ran 300 meters under heavy fire to take the place of a fallen soldier. He was treated for his wounds in-country and completed his 12-month tour.

He was honorably discharged from the service after three promotions, and returned home to begin another life – the life of a college student. He took advantage of the GI Bill and enrolled immediately at Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, but the thoughts of once again playing on the gridiron were never far from his thoughts.

He completed his first full year at Germanna and successfully earned credits that make him eligible to transfer to a four-year school, and his early thoughts were that he could go somewhere like Virginia Tech.

“That was my thought, but my entire goal was to just go to school and try and walk-on somewhere,” he said. “So I made the video and put it out there, and I actually had more people contact me than just Virginia Tech, so then I thought I might wind up somewhere else.”

One of the people who saw the video was Dabo Swinney, the coach at a school that has a long and proud military tradition.

“Coach Dabo contacted me through the email, and he wanted me to come take a visit,” he said. “So since that time I have been talking to compliance and trying to work things out. And he made it clear that once I am cleared, he has offered me a chance to play on the team. My schooling is being paid for by the GI Bill, so I don’t have to have a scholarship. I just want the chance to walk on.”

He said he thinks his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan will serve him well as he tries to earn a spot on the Clemson football team, and doesn’t mind when he hears football players talk about “going to war.”

“I just keep it context. I have experienced actual war, but at the same time I understand the metaphor,” Rodriguez said. “I can't take playing football as literally going to war – it is not something that I will walk with a shoulder wound from. But I do think it has helped me in being positive and cool under fire. I have learned how to lead men.

“Seeing men killed and seeing my buddies killed makes me keep all of this in perspective and to be grateful for the little things. What they went through, and what they gave up for our country, is what motivates me as a person. Just coming into the locker room and the weight room, I think I can have an impact. Maybe I can be a role model to some of the younger players. I hope it works out.”

Rodriguez said that if it works out that he can enroll at Clemson, he knows he can't have any expectations about a spot.

“I am coming in with an open mind. I know beggars can't be choosers,” he said. “I just want to prove what I am capable of doing. I would love to play slot receiver, but if I have to start on the practice squad or special teams, I don’t care. I will do whatever I have to do to help the team. Wherever it suits the team best, I will play there.”





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Subject (Replies: 75) Author
Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
B-Meist®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
jmccoy41®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
SyscoTiger
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
movino®
Amen. I see a movie here.***
Smiling Tiger®
What a movie that would be
Yzracer48
Funny you say that
MarineOneClemson®
This whole thing, that video, the story, etc., has that feel
Smiling Tiger®
Re: This whole thing, that video, the story, etc., has that feel
MarineOneClemson®
I have a feeling...
cutiger250®
JMO---but I think this guy has the potential for
tigrjm76®
Exactly.......and maybe much more. Best shape on team.***
CUTIGR69®
Hey coots, this is what class looks like***
Bryanttiger®
Com'mon now, they had Pops
hleapha
Re: Hey coots, this is what class looks like***
HouseCoot
Re: Hey coots, this is what class looks like***
shellac23
It's pretty apparent that your coach and program is about as
ArmyRanger28®
Re: Hey coots, this is what class looks like***
Griggs
Re: I have a feeling...
allorangeallthetime52®
Re: I have a feeling...
deroberts
regardless of how much he plays this guy would be an asset
74TIGER
If this man makes it on our team
kgpittm®
DITTO...***
kcgray74
Re: DITTO the DITTO !
movino®
Re: DITTO the DITTO !
Dugatiger®
Re: DITTO the DITTO !
shellac23
Re: If this man makes it on our team
BKendall36®
Amen, brother. Between Dabo and this kid, we will be one
Tiger_Fan_007®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
Tiger4Ever91
Every story is usually from another source
Yzracer48
Does anthing ever please you? Seems you're never happy.
CUTIGR69®
Re: Does anthing ever please you? Seems you're never happy.
shellac23
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
Dugatiger®
Thx for reaching out to him Dabo!
CRAWDAD®
And if the coots want to start another brawl out on the.....
jch81
Re: And if the coots want to start another brawl out on the.....
allorangeallthetime52®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers***
CU_Tiger_06
Regardless....
CU_Tiger_06
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
jasonflair50
That's an awesome story! Rudy has nothing on him.***
Injun Tiger
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
kbrann
This is awesome. I cant wait for this kid to join the team!!***
tiger_rag2010
Re: This is awesome. I cant wait for this kid to join the team!!***
allorangeallthetime52®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
Dugatiger®
I want him. Would be great for 1st player in uniform to
CUTIGR69®
I think we would like a team full of men like this. What a
1991Tiger
So is it still between us and VT?
Yzracer48
Ya I wasn't clear if he was enrolling here or not for sure***
truetiger1998
Guys this is what ALL IN looks likes***
furrcola5
Oh boy!! This will be fun watch! D-Rod...go baby, go!***
iTiger
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
Detigs
Rodriquez may not be rated by Scout, ESPN or Rivals, but
TheHill2
Wow, this is the best story I've seen in long time!!
tigerband1®
This guy is already a Tiger. ..and a superb young man.***
Zoe09®
Tigers could use a man like Daniel who has some true grit***
lightbulbbill®
Point for "True Grit" LbB***
Yiggy®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
clemtiger117®
Possibly future head football coach, Athletic Director, and
tigerband1®
This would be a continuance of Clemson's long tradition
hartins®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
timculley
Rodriguez and Clemson
Tomcatgre
Sign this guy. I don't care how good he is. Sign him.***
Completely Solid Orange®
Proud to be a Tiger.
CUgrad04
God Bless this young man and....
Prime T. Tiger
great story***
tiger_gator
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
sshufor
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
CUgrad2011
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
sshufor
Read the headline and thought it was about RichRod !!! GLAD
Rocky the Tiger®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopeful for second chance at football, might have home with Tigers
allorangeallthetime52®
unless it motivates him
Yzracer48
Hope he becomes a tiger. Thanks for your service Rodriguez.
colemanfan
Just saw him in the spring practice pics
ChemETiger97
Any follow-up on D-Rod? Is he eligible?
CRAWDAD®
Re: Any follow-up on D-Rod? Is he eligible?
Crump®
Clemson or Gamecock fan
nothinman72

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